Fitbit Charge HR Review for Non-Athletes Part 4


Skin and irritation
I have sensitive skin so I wasn't surprised that after the first week I experienced irritation in the area where I positioned the Charge HR just below my wrist bone. However, the irritation and itchiness eventually disappeared when my skin got used to the wearable and I started cleaning the Charge HR more regularly after a period of activity. Like most watches, the Charge HR will leave a mark on your wrist if you wear it tightly and hardly remove it.
Sleep tracking
Although I put off buying a wearable for years, one of the more compelling reasons I wanted one was sleep tracking. Due to long-buried mental issues (cough), I have problems getting a good night's sleep, and learning how well I sleep at night would be instrumental in helping me improve my slumber.
 
I've had enough experience with software and hardware to acknowledge that sensors are flawed, particularly sensors embedded on consumer electronics. The technology found on similar activity tracking products by Garmin, Apple, Jawbone, Samsung and ASUS is fairly consistent. At the end of the day, it's the software that interprets the data collected by the sensor that makes the difference.
The Charge HR is no more or no less accurate than competing products. It was able to track my restless sleep fairly well and as long as I synced it early morning the next day, the Charge HR was able to report a good estimate of the number of times I got up, turned over and fell asleep. The data that the Dashboard presents regarding my sleeping hours may not be as accurate as data collected during a formal sleep study, but it was certainly educational and told me that I should work harder at improving my REM sleep.
The Charge HR was able to collect data when I took afternoon naps, but failed to recognize one instance when I fell asleep during a three-hour flight. If you're traveling across time zones, make sure that you update the time on the Bluetooth client you use to sync with the Charge HR.
Charging and powering off
Other reviews have already pointed out the disadvantages of the Charge HR's proprietary charging cable. This is one of those cases where you really, really have to make sure you don't lose the charging cable. Although it's not a deal-breaker, the charging cable connector doesn't fit as firmly as I would like on the Charge HR. It jiggles somewhat and it doesn't take much for it to pop out. You can, however, plug the USB cable to any standard USB power adapter, such as the charger that comes with the HP Stream 8 or MemoPad HD7.
 
Steve Jobs said that he didn't like the idea of devices with a power button but like most people, I don't agree with that sentiment. The only time the Charge HR really "powers off" is when you connect the proprietary charging cable. Documentation emphasizes the device is meant to be worn all the time, but I must admit I wish there was some way to turn off the Fitbit Charge HR. When I go swimming, I don't like the idea of the Charge HR still on while it's tucked away in my bag. It's fairly easy to rewrite the firmware to allow a long press to power off the device so I'm curious as to why Fitbit didn't include a power off function.

Although I'm committed to wearing the Charge HR all the time and improve my Dashboard stats, I must admit I do feel a huge amount of relief when I remove the wearable and plug the Charge HR before taking a shower. Since my Charge HR is fairly new, it generally takes less than an hour before the device is fully charged. Garmin's Vivofit products last longer than the Charge HR's purported 5 day battery life, but I'm not ashamed to admit I don't mind the excuse to take it off. 
 
Activity trackers and the Charge HR
The Charge HR is perfect for users who don't obsess over physical activities but acknowledge the importance of staying active and getting enough sleep. During the three weeks of continuous use, I didn't change any of the default settings, heart rate zones or even set silent alarms and yet the Charge HR was able to furnish me with usable data based on my weight, age and height. I use the Dashboard to check collected data but I don't use it for tracking food and drink consumption or sharing my statistics to other users.
 
My primary concern with the Fitbit Charge HR is odd moments when the Charge HR would "fall asleep" and pressing the button doesn't display any data. This doesn't happen very often but it is a bit alarming when it does. I also have concerns about the lack of ability to power off the product and its resiliency. Admittedly, the design isn't that much different from other wristworn devices but I'm concerned that the screen is pretty vulnerable during rough activity. I'm not sure if the Charge HR is for careless people.
The interactive features available on the Dashboard are no doubt useful or fun to other Fitbit users, though I'm only interested in the data regarding sleep, steps, activity and calories. As with all types of data-collecting technology, interpret the data with a grain of salt. That isn't to say the data the Charge HR presents isn't useful. On the contrary, the Charge HR is more than adequate for users who want to improve themselves whether in terms of sleep or activity. As with most health-related products and consumer technology, the overall efficacy is totally dependent on the user.

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